Case in point why I am an overachiever who is constantly on the brink of potentially suffering from overexertion? In addition to planning and throwing a Blog Day Brunch to celebrate two years of The Smart Kitchen on Sunday, I spent part of this weekend busily baking bread for my second blogging venture: freelancing on Breath Magazine’s blog.As it is March, and the assault of hologram-embossed shamrocks and plastic green leprechaun hats makes it impossible to forget that St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, I chose to remake the traditional Irish Soda Bread. Why? Well, although it might appear to the casual acquaintance that I am, in fact, Irish…what with my red hair, insane devotion to Lucky Charms, and the fact that I wear something green almost every day,* I actually have Scottish tartan running through my veins. Yet, while I’m not so keen on downing haggis, I can get behind the Irish method of (soda) bread baking.
*Note to everyone: Be careful when you tell a ten-year-old that they look good in green. It can have extremely long-lasting consquences.Being a lazy baker, I am all about freshly baked bread that doesn’t require me to go all Frankenstein on some dry yeast. [It's ALIVE!] And no yeast has to be reanimated for soda bread. In fact, the traditional Irish Soda Bread requires only four ingredients: flour, salt, buttermilk, and the baking soda for which it is named. I’ve healthified the recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour, and I added a whole lot of extra dried fruit, nuts, and spices to make it a more rich-tasting breakfast bread.It’s not vegan–I cracked an egg into it, and used low-fat buttermilk–but it is foods like this that make me happy to call myself a “vegan…with benefits.”And don’t think I’m not working on a vegan version, too. (Remember that first sentence in this post about being an overachiever?)Now go get the recipe, start baking, and, when it comes out of the oven all fresh and warm, nibble on it with a nice cup of tea. [Perhaps Irish Breakfast?]
Irish Breakfast (Soda) Bread
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry (or bread) flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 Tbsp. sucanat (or other brown sugar)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8-1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/8-1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp. each chopped walnuts, dates, dried cranberries, golden raisins (or 1/2 cup chopped nuts and dried fruit of your choice)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, sugar, and spices.
- Make a “well” in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the beaten egg and buttermilk.
- Stir together wet and dry ingredients until almost completely incorporated.
- Using a wooden spoon–or your hands –mix in dried fruit and nuts, just until evenly distributed.
- Mold dough into a round loaf and set onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Use a knife to ‘score’ the bread crossways.
- Bake 30 minutes, ‘tenting’ with aluminum foil if the top gets browned too quickly.